)· wes anderson · older david cronenberg films ——————— H u m a n i t i e s
There are postmodern films and postmodern ways of looking at films. In class we’ve watched “The Royal Tenenbaums” which most viewers would consider a postmodern film. Can you describe the features of this film that reflect elements of postmodernism? How are these revealed thematically and technically? What other films would you select if you were compiling a list of postmodern films?
Read through the articles linked below about postmodern films and their themes and techniques. It would be best for you to watch as many of the films mentioned in these articles as possible.
1. Write a short analysis on a postmodern film. Select one of the films mentioned in the reading, or find one of your own that is worthy of your attention. Your critique should respond to the following questions:
1. How are postmodern themes illustrated or brought to life in this film? (review the list of Hallmarks of the Postmodern Film in the “Conclusions” section of Module 11 of the e-text.)
2. In what ways does this film transcend or transform earlier film styles or techniques?
3. Whenever possible, please include a link that shows what you are talking about.
Please submit this analysis in the turnitin link below by 11:59pm on the date listed in the syllabus!
What am I looking for? Well, for example…
Perhaps the most renowned postmodern director is Quentin Tarantino. The dialogue of films such as Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994) rely heavily on seemingly meaningless chatter about TV shows, pop music, B movies, and celebrity gossip. In Jackie Brown (1997) Tarantino cast the actress Pam Grier, relying on her past image as a sex symbol in 1970s blaxploitation films such as Coffy(1973) and Foxy Brown (1974) in order to channel that legacy into his own film. This postmodern casting move has also been used famously by directors such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, who in his Mamma Roma (1962) cast Anna Magnani as the title character, consistently quoting and twisting the iconic image she acquired in Roberto Rossellini’s Roma, Città Aperta (Rome, Open City, 1945). Jean-Luc Godard’s casting of Fritz Lang as the director in Le Mépris (Contempt, 1963) is similar. Tarantino has made it a hallmark of his cinema, drawing on former stars such as John Travolta in Pulp Fiction and Darryl Hannah in the Kill Bill films (2003–2004).
Tarantino’s casting is an example of postmodern intertextuality—a work’s quoting, plagiarizing, or alluding to other films or cultural artifacts—a phenomenon that abounds in postmodern cinema. For example, in the first few minutes of Lola rennt (Run Lola Run, 1998), Lola (Franka Potente) receives a phone call from her boyfriend Manni that he needs money desperately. Lola throws up the telephone receiver, which director Tom Tykwer films in slow motion, alluding to the famous cut from the bone to the space station in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). She then lets out a glass-shattering scream, just like Oskar’s in Volker¨ndorff’s Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum, 1979). The two sentences at the beginning of the film, “the ball is round” and “the game lasts for ninety minutes,” are famous quotations from Sepp Herberger, a well-known German soccer coach. Finally, the painting which hangs over the casino scene is of Kim Novak’s back, alluding to the painting in Vertigo (1958) that Novak’s character obsessively stares at in the museum.
The system of allusion and quotation such as that found in Run Lola Run—which mixes both “high” art and “low” popular culture from various time periods and cultures—is a typical feature of postmodern cinema, and is often referred to as pastiche. For Jameson, parody refers to the use of various styles, genres, or texts for a critical purpose, while pastiche is a blank form of parody, blithely mimicking past forms without an underlying critical perspective. This distinction may be construed as problematic, however, since whether a film engages in parody or pastiche with its intertextuality is largely a matter of interpretation. Does Jackie Brown meditate on the legacy of blaxploitation films in the presence of Pam Grier, or does she merely constitute an in-joke for the initiated? Is Run Lola Run an attempt to come to terms with (German) film history, or are the allusions empty gestures of an exhausted film industry? The answers to these questions are hardly clear-cut.
Many argue that the postmodern has also infiltrated the narrative form of many films. Unlike in Hollywood’s heyday, when the plot was transmitted in the most seamless fashion possible, many twenty-first century films, both Hollywood and independent, strive for a narrative that defies linear logic. Run Lola Run presents three different scenarios for Lola’s quest to save her boyfriend, and she seems to learn from the past attempts, a narrative configuration that some have likened to the logic of a video game rather than a typical feature film. Likewise, films such as Blind Chance (1987), Sliding Doors (1998), and Melinda and Melinda (2004) present alternative stories. Rashomon (1950) and Jackie Brown are films in which a single story is told from several different perspectives, but Jackie Brown parodies Kurosawa’s canonical modernist experiment in Rashomon by relocating these point-of-view sequences from the epic landscapes of a Japanese forest and ruined temple to the banal setting of a nondescript US shopping mall. Other films use postmodern intertextuality as the sine qua non of their narratives. Forrest Gump (1994) is unthinkable without the fictional Forrest’s postproduction insertion into documentary footage of real US presidents and celebrities; Woody Allen’s imaginary history Zelig (1983) works along similar lines. These films function by blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction, history and story. Finally, some see the blockbuster’s “narrative” to be a consequence of the postmodern school.
Rather than functioning as a cause-and-effect story, the blockbuster often organizes itself as a series of attractions (special effects, explosions, car chases) that spectators anticipate and enjoy. What the film is “about” becomes inconsequential or, at best, secondary, to a string of shocks designed to overload the senses.
The matter of style is another tricky question in the context of postmodern cinema. Is the “machine-gun” editing in Darren Aronofsky’s Pi (1998) and Requiem for a Dream (2000), Guy Maddin’s The Heart of the World (2000), and MTV music videos necessarily or equally post-modern? How are these projects different stylistically from early Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s Stachka (Strike, 1925),Bronenosets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemkin, 1925), and Oktyabr (Ten Days that Shook the World and October, 1927)? The question of intention, taboo in poststructuralist thinking, might nonetheless help us here. Whereas the modernist Eisenstein made his films as propaganda tools aimed to garner support for a metanarrative (Leninism), Maddin is much more interested in evoking the mood or style of Soviet montage filmmaking, but with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Finally, production design is often cited as a yard-stick of postmodern cinema. Whereas the modernist architecture of Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus school called for a marriage of form, function, and social utility, examples of postmodern architecture might mix elements reminiscent of the Renaissance, baroque, neoclassical, Gothic, and modernist in the same facade. So too, for example, does Bo Welch create Gotham City in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992), which pays homage to several German expressionist films along with art deco and other stylistic touches. The dystopic Los Angeles of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) has often been cited as the postmodern cine-city par excellence. The film’s production design cites numerous historical influences including, most obviously, film noir. As Giuliana Bruno has noted, the city in Blade Runner is not a vision of ultramodern skyscrapers and orderly, mechanized interiors, but rather a hodgepodge aesthetic of recycled decay (“Ramble City”).
What movies should I watch?
If I were to give you a short list of post-modern directors/films, it would probably include:
· David Lynch
· The Coen brothers
· Fight Club, Memento or Inception, Donnie Darko,
· Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love, 2046, Chung King Express, etc.)
· Wes Anderson
· Older David Cronenberg films
A sample analysis:
I chose to write my Postmodern film analysis on the film Sin City. This film was released in 2005 and was directed and produced by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez and with Quentin Tarantino as the guest director of the film. The unique aspect of this film is that its plot is split up into different parts throughout the film. The story is split into four different sections. The first stroy line is called The Customer is always Right, which is split into two different parts. The second story line is called The Yellow Bastard which is also split in two parts. The final two are called The Hard Goodbye and The Big Fat Kill. This type of story telling is a halllmark of postmodern filmmaking because it displays a jumbled, often non-linear story line. This also goes along with the fact that the conventional narrative structure and characterization are changed in each of the different parts of the film.
The second Postmodern characteristic that I noticed was the films ability to shock without linking this device to a message. In this case it is senseless violence in the scene.http:// class=”screenreader-only”> (Links to an external site.) in this clip you will see that the man expresses his feelings toward the girl, but then moments later shoots her with no reason why.
I also encountered an inconclusive ending in the first part called The Customer is Always Right. The girl named Becky leaves the hospital after an injury and is on the phone with her mother. She then ends the call after being offered a cigarette. Then the part of the film ends and we never see the fate of the girl. http:// class=”screenreader-only”> (Links to an external site.)
The film also stars a true ensemble cast as easily a dozen different actors could be said to “Star” in the picture. In fact the credits ran alphabetically as there was no true leads in the film.
The set design and costuming were terrific examples of postmodern excess as the characters were dressed not as “normal” people would be but as cartoonish icons of post-apocalyptic violence or as a prototypical 1940’s detective all in the same movie.
Finally you can see visual style placed over the classic invisible style of old Hollywood with the animated blood running over the credits to arbitrary cuts to animation, graphics and/or black and white photography. There are characters that have glowing yellow skin to others with super speed or that can move in total silence. The one aspect they share is that they are all morally ambiguous as even the “good guys” break the law and resort to extreme violence without hesitation.
In every sense it is a post-modern film per the criteria listed in the assignment.
End of analysis.